This is an intelligent romp, with a cheerfulness that takes the sting out of hard truths. It allows us to laugh at life, others, and ourselves as a good satire should. There is no implied superiority, as a bad satire would.
“Ingenuity and Impudence are all we have,” says Crispin. Throw in Imagination, a little Vaudeville pas de deux, love and chance, and an Oxford comma. Add a mask. A sprinkle of Shakespeare. The glamour of opera. And you have a must-see play.
It’s a fast-moving experience, courtesy of a central character named Crispin; the choreographers; and the English translation which echoes Shakespeare at his most playfulness.
Add a mask. A sprinkle of Shakespeare. The glamour of opera. And you have a must-see play.
Crispin comes and goes as needed. Wide armed and quick tongued, he pushes the plot along. The plot? Does life have a plot? Does Crispin have a plot? Any certainty you may have will be tested to the very end of the play.
Don’t worry about the story you are about to witness. Be content to accompany two interesting travellers as they awaken a town to an adventure.
Uncertainty comes as we meet the characters, understand their perspectives, and discover their flaws. The beauty in which they are presented to us adds to the pace and humour of the play, with marionette poses and weightless dashes across the stage.
Fast moves and fast lines may be fun, but it can add up to frustration if the audience can’t hear. Luckily, this was not a problem. The first comment I overheard during intermission was “I’m so happy I can understand everything they are saying. So much clearer than the opening speeches. You can tell these are professionals.”
The professional spirit came out in the opening night performance where the play achieved moments of artistry.
The professional spirit came out in the opening night performance where the play achieved moments of artistry. The point where a piece escapes the grasp of its creator. I can only imagine what is going to happen on future nights, when the lines are embodied, and the heat is less exhausting. The third act showed the toll the heat, the burden of costumes, and the fast pace was taking on the actors. But as they say, this is the charm of live theatre.
It is said that the best comedies are written during the hardest times as we seek hope in the best of ourselves, while enduring our circumstances. This is one of those comedies. The masked caricatures are people you would see on the streets in one of Spain’s depressions in 1903. And now after this classic reproduction, you may see their shadows on your cell phone’s social media pages.
Proof that good art has eternal power. That’s something to think about as you wander back through the park on your way home. I think, I think too much.
The Bonds of Interest by Jacinto Benavente is presented by Odyssey Theatre. It is playing at Strathcona Park (25 Range Road, Ottawa) from July 27- August 25, 2019. Tickets are available online and by phone. Visit Odyssey Theatre’s Theatre Under the Stars website for The Bonds of Interest prices and updated show times.
You can also purchase a “Picnic and a Play” package provided by Signatures Cordon Bleu. Please note, there is some limited space for lawn chairs, but most of the seating is on wooden bleachers. Back supporting seat pads are available for rent ($2) but feel free to bring your own. Emergency bug spray is available for free, in case of spontaneous mosquito hatchings.